Isner stands tall at Masters, searches for Dawgs

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- John Isner should be able to find his friends fairly easily at crowded Augusta National.

The 6-foot-10 tennis player, who is ranked ninth in the latest ATP standings, arrived at the Masters on Friday and started searching for his fellow Georgia Bulldogs.

There are a bunch of them in the field.

"It's very cool," Isner said. "It's crazy, really. Not to mention there's probably five or six others that have their (tour) card as well. A lot of Bulldogs, and we are in Georgia, so these guys are going to get a lot of support."

Bubba Watson, Chris Kirk, Harris English, Russell Henley played at Georgia, and Patrick Reed started his college career at Georgia before transferring to Augusta State.

Isner won't have much trouble spotting them. After all, when you're the tallest guy on the grounds, you don't have jockey for a clear view.

-- Mark Long, https://twitter.com/APMarkLong

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CROWD NOISE: The first tee at Augusta National is a social place. The clubhouse is nearby, along with the big oak tree that has become THE gathering spot during the Masters.

So everyone crowds around the opening tee, making it an entertaining spot to listen to spectator chatter.

Here are a few examples from Friday when Angel Cabrera, Ian Poulter and Gary Woodland were teeing off.

One observer on Cabrera, an Argentinian who's modestly listed at 210 pounds: "He looks just like me. He has no neck."

Another one on Poulter, a Brit who's known as much for his colorful outfits as his golf: "Oh my God. He's wearing sherbet-lime-green shoes that perfectly match his shirt and pants. I love those shoes!"

Woodland, an American who's considered one of the biggest hitters on tour, was also fair game: "Watch him hit a feather cut up the hill about 325."

Hard to argue with those assessments.

-- Mark Long

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SENIOR WARMUP: Seven golfers at the Masters will have a short trip to their next event: They'll be playing at a Champions Tour event in suburban Atlanta.

Fifty-four-year-old Fred Couples is the latest senior to commit to the Greater Gwinnett Championship, which will be held next weekend at the TPC Sugarloaf in suburban Atlanta.

That setup is mighty convenient. The Sugarloaf course, which once hosted a PGA Tour event, is about a 2½-hour drive from Augusta National.

Also going straight from the Masters to the Greater Gwinnett Championship are Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Mark O'Meara and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who will make his Champions Tour debut at Sugarloaf. The Spaniard turned 50 on Jan. 5.

Of course, all seven have their minds on more important matters at the moment. Especially Jimenez, Couples and Langer, who are actually in contention after the opening round of the Masters.

Jimenez and Couples opened with 1-under-par 71s and Langer shot 72, leaving them all within four shots of leader Bill Haas.

-- Paul Newberry, https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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LONG LINE: Getting a photo at the Masters takes patience -- maybe because it's free.

Spectators aren't allowed to bring cameras or cellphones onto the hallowed grounds during the four-day tournament, so they have few chances to get precious pics on the pristine course.

And if you want to get one in front of the famed clubhouse, get in line -- a long line.

More than a hundred people were waiting for their shot Friday morning, hanging out in the warm sun for a couple quick clicks. The photos are free -- quite the deal at a place where weekly passes can go for thousands of dollars on the open market.

"It's a free gig," a security guard told those in line.

He also had a word of caution: "If you lose your card, you lose your photo."

-- Mark Long

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Masters Watch follows golf's first major of the year and all the activities surrounding the big event in Augusta, Ga., as seen by journalists from The Associated Press. It will be updated throughout the day.